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Stops and Steps

Stops and Steps

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.

Psalm 37:23-24

And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.

Mark 6:31

 

“The stops of a good man are ordered by the Lord as well as his steps.”  —George Mueller

With summer break it is easy for parents to disengage, to go into autopilot and to lesson expectations for their children.  Taking a break is not the same thing as being lazy.  While taking a break is good, we should still have some basic Christian and family life expectations in our homes.

Here are some ideas for students this summer:

  • Take a break from school work, but keep reading the Bible.
  • Take a break from classes, but still attend Sunday School.
  • Take a break from Physical Education, but still exercise prayer and discernment.
  • Take a break from academic teachers, but never stop learning how to live from your parents.

Here are some ideas for parents this summer:

  • Keep structure in the home. While a little more relaxed there should still be a bedtime and wake up time and normal times for meals.
  • Communicate expectations concerning chores. Each child should have several jobs in the home that help you, that add value to them, and gives them a purpose and a role to fulfill in your home.
  • Have limits on media. Vegging out in front of a TV or a small media device for hours on end is unhealthy. Cultivate real people interaction.  Give play time outside.  Try a new sport.  Take a hike or a bike ride. Have friends come over to do more than play video games.  Get a ball and enjoy the weather.
  • Get several interesting books from the bookstore or the library and except your child to read 1 or 2 books during the summer months. Ensure the mind stays sharp!

My prayer is that you will have a safe, fun, and God-honoring summer break!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The New “Valentines Day Massacre”

The New Valentines Day Massacre

February 14, 1929, seven men were killed in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood by 4 men in a planned attack in a mob war.  According to Wiki – “Two of the shooters were dressed as uniformed policemen, while the others wore suits, ties, overcoats and hats. Witnesses saw the “police” leading the other men at gunpoint out of the garage after the shooting.”

Interestingly enough the student assailant of the February 14, 2018 shooting walked out with others students to try to avoid being captured. What can one say? Sad. Tragic. Needless. My heart goes out to all the students and their families in that school.

The New “Valentines Day Massacre” is a reflection of the human heart.  In Florida, 17 Students are dead and many others are physically wounded.

In addition, the psychological trauma and the emotional distress will be painful for years to come if not properly processed by each student.  Those intense moments of either confronting the assailant, evading him, or even being confronted by the SWAT teams as they secured the area can become horrific memories in the mind of each student.

I read somewhere that since 1999 and Columbine High School in Colorado, that there have been 25 mass school shootings with nearly 100 students killed.  Just shortly after the Columbine event, I walked around the school property, saw the crime scene, and looked at the makeshift memorials on a hillside outside.

Who is to blame?  Why do mass casualty events like this happen?  Why does it seem to be increasing?

The problem of people killing other people is rooted in the cognition level of what people were celebrating on Valentine’s Day – the heart.  While people were eating chocolate hearts, sending hearts on texts, and attempting to express love to their mate, a troubled student in Florida was planning and formulating in his heart a plan of hate and harm.

An old prophet named Jeremiah wrote about the heart 2600 years ago in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

Mankind, at his best is still a sinful being living in a world of pain, suffering, temptations, injustice, and unkindness.  People can be flat out mean.  It is because we are sinners and have a sin nature that is part of our DNA.

Apart from the “regeneration” of the Holy Spirit of God, individual men will continue to sin against themselves, against others, and against God.

When mass casualty events take place in schools, I ask the following questions:

  1. Where were the parents?
  2. Has the dad been a steady influence?
  3. What kind of abuse did the assailant endure as a child?
  4. How long has bitterness, anger and rage been left unchecked?
  5. What was the one “trigger event” or spark that brought this rage to the surface?

Like a chemical reaction, the chemicals can be mixed all together but lacks one ingredient, that when added causes the reaction or explosion.  What was the tipping point event (ingredient) in the life of the assailant?

Anyone with “no future” will be living in the past.  I suspect that this young man endured a difficult home life, did not feel loved and valued, and reacted to the hardships of life by isolating himself from the accountability of friends and family.  This young man had not discovered a purpose or reason for living.  It is possible one attempts to find significance by harming others.  Sometimes it is even posted in social media ahead of time.

The perception that “I have no reason for being alive” is just that – a perception.  It is informed by choices, environment, and the person’s past.  This is a sad way many people are living.  A person desperate for attention, significance, or security could drive himself to the point of insane actions to gain what he believes is lacking in his life – value.

God loves people so much that He sent Jesus to die on the cross, shedding His blood and taking our punishment and paying for our sin with his very life.  Following a person’s belief in Jesus, the Christian has a new purpose and reason for living.  Ephesians 2:10 states, For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.  Have Hope Today!  Choose New Life!  Jesus values each person and wants to have a personal relationship with each person.

Common denominators and problematic symptoms of assailants seem to include: a wounded spirit, isolation of self from others, a broken family, playing violent games, listening to music with violent lyrics, and a rebellious attitude that is quite and not always evident on the surface. Sometimes the assailants are trying to replicate something they saw in media.  Many times it is the student who is suffering life in silence.  The ones who suffer more vocally tend to get more attention from their peers and teachers.

The prophet Jeremiah, cited earlier, was known as “the weeping prophet.”  He saw the people of his land suffering and was fast to cry genuine tears.  Children in particular were being killed. Jeremiah 31:15 says, “Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.”

The reason for their suffering?  Why were their children being killed?  The Babylonian enemies of Israel were taking the people captive.  Why did God allow the pain, suffering, and even death at the hands of these evil attackers?  The people of God (who knew better) were no longer honoring God with their lives.  They had forsaken God for money and man-made idols.  They had even looked to the government to try to solve all their social and spiritual problems, but it could not help.

Original Sin is the cause of all human suffering.  The bad things God allows into our lives are conditioned to our response and relationship with Him.  Bad things happen to good and bad people.  Good things happen to both too.  One pastor friend of mine knows one of the young people who was killed in the Florida shooting.  Nothing takes God by surprise.

How we deal with the pain and suffering really depends on our perspective of God. Knowing God is loving and believing He does not want shootings like this to happen can give you assurance.  Trusting that God is perfectly Holy, and that mankind is inherently sinful causes us to see the need for God in our lives all the more!  God’s heart is that when people love Him, they will want to love and be kind to other people.  The heart is the issue.

The assailant broke many laws already including a very basic one – murdering people.  He took a weapon(s) onto school property.

Not only did the assailant break current civil laws, he broke the law of God.

  1. He was not loving his neighbor. Romans 13:8, Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
  2. He murdered innocent people. Exodus 20:13 says, “Thou shalt not kill.”
  3. He hated others in his heart. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus likens hating people to killing them.  To God, when we humans hate other humans it is the same as murdering them.  (Matthew 5:21-22)

A few random concluding thoughts…

  • Anytime a person takes the innocent life of another (circumstances of war and self-defense are different) it is a tragic symptom of a heart that does not know God.
  • Until there is a change in each human heart we will continue to see more and more evil in this world. Legislating morality is only on the surface.  The heart must be affected for it to be lasting.
  • Crime can be punished. Even the preventative nature of a swift justice system can be a deterrent, but a person who senses no purpose for life may want to go out “in a blaze of glory” anyway.
  • Evil events can be minimized, but they will not be eradicated in a world filled with sin and sinful people. Personal defense courses teach that “only a gun will stop another gun.”  Talk to your kids about safe responses.  Make them aware of “danger signals.”
  • Pray for the victims to recover.  Pray for the families of the deceased.  Ask God for His peace and comfort to be real to those hurting today.  God cares.  He knows the pain.
  • Above all – give control of your home to God. Teach your kids to love God.  When we love God, we will be kind to others. Develop and mold their hearts to be accountable to the God of Heaven.

I leave you with two statements Jesus made in Mark 12:30-31, And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

Attacks like this reflect the heart.  Many times, the heart is a reflection of the home.  Make your home a place that gives meaning and purpose to life with the Lord as the source of that meaning.

 

 

 

 

 

Wimps, Women, and Children

Wimps, Women, and Children

But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.  I Timothy 5:8

The Lord has given and set in order His own design for the home.  The first example is Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  They loved and nurtured each other in the presence of the Lord.  When sin entered into their world, it caused grief, guilt, discord and death.

After original sin, the husband and wife would struggle to live and would both endure a curse on the ground and on their bodies.  Marriage is tough.  Being a married couple for any amount of time is a big deal.  Leaving father and mother and cleaving to your spouse as the Lord ordered the home, is important.

The context of this verse is caring for others.  In particular a widow must be cared for by her immediate family.  A son should take the lead to ensure his mom has what she needs after the husband has passed away.  Other relationships in context include: sisters, nieces, nephews, and fathers.  Think about the immediate family: Husband – wife – children.  Let’s make application in this context.

The man is to take the lead and provide for the household the Lord has entrusted to him.  There are several ways in which the man can lead.  At first I called this article: “The Providing Man” then realized that a much better title that describes many Christian men today would be “Wimps, Women, and Children.”  I along with others have struggled with this.  Men, we can be wimps.  “Wimp” is defined by Encarta as “an offensive term that deliberately insults somebody regarded as weak, timid, unassertive, or ineffectual.”  I don’t want to be a wimp, and neither do you.  Men seeking excellence as a man do not want to be ineffectual or unassertive.  When the temptation to not provide the leadership God has called you provide to knocks on your door, remember these following truths.

The man should provide for physical needs.  If a child is hungry, he should be fed.  The father is working a job in order to provide the basic physical needs.  Food, shelter, and clothing, are the basics every person needs.  An infant, toddler, primary, elementary student or even a teenager are not charged with the responsibility to care for their own physical necessities.  It is the husband or father.  This verse is written in a way emphasizing the masculine to demonstrate the calling of God on the man to provide.  All men are called to work some kind of job to earn a living.  The wife can work if she likes, but the man should be treating her like royalty in the manner he provides.  The Proverbs 31 woman is a good example for the lady of the home. She must also have initiative and minister to those in her care.

The man should provide for emotional needs.  Relational needs go right along with this.  The wife needs to know she is cherished.  Also the sons and daughters needs to know they are valued by the father.  This must be communicated in word and in action.  Quality time spent together, deep conversations enjoyed, playful moments, playing a game, teaching moments, prayerful moments must be shared.  The man is instructed to dwell with his wife “according to knowledge.”  Some men know “What buttons to push” to make others react and become angry.  This is not right.  The man should know what emotional encouragement his wife and children have and then meet it.  The family should feel safe and secure in relational and emotional ways with the husband and father.  The man of the home should not play games with the emotions of his wife or children.  He needs to be a steady leader.  Avoid the “roller coaster” affect some strive for in manipulating emotions.

The man should provide for spiritual needs.  Called to provide leadership, the man should take the spiritual initiative in the home.  Like the Dodge truck slogan “Grab Life by the Horns” a man should grab hold of his spiritual responsibility.  Many times a mother brings the kids to church and the father is reluctant to attend.  Men in that frame of mind are not the spiritual leaders God wants for them to be.  Men who are afraid to pray, afraid to participate in the life of the church, or afraid to talk of spiritual things need to “grow up” and mature in these areas.  The husband should say “Let’s go to church – be sure to bring your Bible.”  The man should foster a love for God in his children by the example of his spiritual leadership.

As you read this do you get the idea that the leader is the servant?  Jesus in Luke 22:26 said, “He that is greatest among you… let him be as he that doth serve”  Men – lead by serving. Instead of “Wimps, Women and Children” with consistent work and the help of the Lord, you could change the title of your life to “The Providing Man.”